As March is a month when women are celebrated, AdHugger asked a few professionals with a remarkable career to tell us their views on developing their career as women working in the communication industry. Julia Smith, Director of Communications Impact, PR Director Appetite Creative, Founder Digital Trading Consultancy Ltd and Partner The 614 Group, kindly gave us her opinion on this matter.
Julia Smith is an Independent Digital Consultant specializing in brand safety, fraud prevention, ethical trading, piracy, programmatic trading, marketing, event management, ad operations, PR, sales training, motivational speaking, ad trading and digital strategy. Her long term clients include Impact, Tug, Appetite Creative & The 614 Group. Her other clients have included Improve Digital, whiteBULLET, Philip Lee Lawyers, Grapeshot, Lexteq, Inskin Media, Admonsters and IFPI.
She started her career in digital advertising at Dennis Publishing 23 years ago and has been at the heart of the changing digital media landscape ever since. Julia has held major commercial roles both agency and media side including Associated Newspapers, The Mirror Group Newspapers, Dennis Publishing, Harvest Digital, IAB, Nexus Business Media and UPC Media.
Julia was Head of IASH, the largest council within the IAB representing digital networks and sales houses. It was in this role that Julia was nominated for the Greatest Individual Contribution Award at the New Media Age Awards 2010. In 2016, Julia was voted by the industry as being in the top 5 Digital Trading Leaders 2016 at The Drum Digital Trading Awards.
Julia also works with The 614 Group team on the Brand Safety Summit Series in London and New York. The 614 Group has become an authoritative source within the digital community around issues of brand safety, fraud, viewability, ad operations, and yield management. Their team of industry leaders tackle important issues head-on in the fight to better our industry.
The industry is always under pressure to improve standards and transparency across equality and diversity and, in the last 6 months, I have seen an increasing amount of positive change. I have also seen numerous women making changes in their jobs and choice of companies that they work with. Their decisions have been influenced by those companies with the flexibility to allow them to achieve the right work / life balance and which benefits every aspect of their life.
For me, the fact that I run my own consultancy has enabled me to work flexible days and hours during the week; enabling me to achieve an incredibly balanced work/life ratio. My clients also benefit as they don’t pay for my hours when I need time off for my family and I can achieve more in the time I dedicate to each client without any disruptions.
On International Women’s Day I think it’s critical to remind ourselves that we should have that same choice and work for an employer that offers and promotes flexibility. Forward thinking companies that do have this strategy will be more successful and more sought after by the talented people in our industry.
- How hard was to develop your career?
I have worked across two decades within the digital ad industry and during that time, the biggest obstacle has been on flexibility, or lack of it, of many of the leading companies. I learned after my second child that having flexible hours and having a senior full time role was going to be the holy grail! I started my own consultancy over 6 years ago as this seemed to be the only way to achieve a successful work / life balance.
- What were the main obstacles to surpass?
A few years ago, the speaker line up of most events were 90% male and it was tough to convince the organisers that females can also draw crowds! This is no longer the case as more women than ever are taking to the stage and there are brilliant initiatives such as WomenPresent who are leading the charge.
- How did you managed to achieve success?
Humour, loyalty and hard work. I still am connected with so many of my previous colleagues and I am a huge believer that karma will out. I ensure that I help and support as many people as possible and have created a close network of trusted people. I have created a group of Digital Leading Ladies which is currently at almost 100 women who are part of a group which connects, supports and provides opportunities for business and networking.
- What do you think today’s industry would need more?
Flexibility on hours and location. It seems archaic that we are required to be in the office from 9am to 5pm when we have the technology to allow us to work perfectly well from any location. The theme for this years’ IWD is “Think equal, build smart and innovate for change”. Let’s hope we see this theme come into fruition in 2019.
- Top 3 things to follow during the current year:
- Expect to see brands and agencies making the headlines for all the wrong reasons! Fraud is still a major issue and those companies who continue to knowingly advertise against inappropriate content, buy fraudulent impressions or advertise on pirate sites are likely to be exposed.
- YouTube and Facebook will need to step up and deliver much more robust brand safety measures if they are going to win back the trust of the advertisers.
- There was a number of key mergers last year within the agency world and this year there are likely to be fewer but not less significant announcements.